Editor’s Note: Matt Dollinger is a senior at Indiana University and is the former men’s basketball beat writer for the Indiana Daily Student. Please welcome him as our newest contributor on Inside the Hall. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like so many of you, walking into Assembly Hall brings back old memories for me.
I hear the familiar blast of the pep band and start humming the fight song. I smell the popcorn and begin to reminisce about games past. And then, I look down at my student ticket and remember, with much sadness, that I will have to climb roughly 27 flights of stairs to ascend the mountain that is section FF, row 7.
Nevertheless, sans Sherpa, I climbed, and witnessed IU’s 83-60 season-opening victory over Howard.
This season, I’m going to provide a little weekly analysis of the Hoosiers’ play (think Bill Walton, with more exclamation marks and less Grateful Dead references). Hopefully, my Hoosier hindsight can stir up some healthy discussion.
So to start, here are five things I took away from Friday’s game:
1. I Like The New Guys
And so does Tom Crean. IU’s seven new players combined to score 55 of the Hoosiers’ 83 points and showed a lot of promise. Curiosity does have me wonder though how Christian Watford, Maurice Creek and Jordan Hulls negotiated jersey number switches with their older teammates. Did Crean make the players shoot for it? And if so, how did Matt Roth lose?
2. Watford Is The Truth
What a treat Watford is going to be for Hoosier fans. A post presence with size, skill and athleticism does not come around every day. The 6-foot-9 frosh displayed a nice touch in the paint and showed he and Tom Pritchard could form into a nice 1-2 punch down low. With 14 points and 11 rebounds in his debut, Watford proved he is going to be more D.J. White than D.J. Mbenga.
3. Offense Aplenty, Defense A-lacking
The Hoosiers have an abundance of weapons on offense, but who are the team’s best defenders? It is early, and Howard doesn’t provide much of a read, but Jeremiah Rivers and Devan Dumes are the most experienced and disciplined in the backcourt. Several of the freshmen could develop into good defenders down the line, but as first-year players they will experience speed bumps along the way. What about a line-up of Rivers-Dumes-Creek-Watford-Muniru?
4. Tom Crean as Bobby Cox
I thought Crean coached a little bit like a National League manager would have. He manufactured some offense, made a few defensive switches and got all 16 players in the game. The Hoosiers will likely go 12-13 deep on a regular basis this season as Crean tries to squeeze every ounce of ability out of his players. Expect to see a lot of different looks and a little bit of everything from the Hoosiers this season.
5. The Energy
As Crean said after the game, “To me, it never gets old.”
I’ve seen Assembly Hall crowds power Hoosier teams to victories before, and Friday convinced me IU could pull off a few upsets in Bloomington this season. On a separate note, there really is something to the energy Tijan Jobe brings. When Crean puts him in the game, fans respond second only to the free pizza giveaway. He doesn’t fill the stat sheet, but Tijan provides an undeniable spark.
More to come next week.